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wisestamp-logoPity the poor email; in the past two decades, as the internet has honed itself into the new repository of human wisdom (with, Mcdonald’s style, “billions and billions of websites served”) as well as the premier communications channel for a new generation (Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest), email is still – just email!

Of course, that’s not to say there haven’t been any changes; nowadays you can load up your messages with doodads, gewgaws, and chupchiks, like little smiley faces, laughing yuksters, and beating hearts (for the romantically inclined). There are applications that let you choose stationery for your message. And, of course, there’s the e-mail storage revolution engineered by Google, whose Gmail service gives you gigs and gigs of storage space, allowing you to search your message history in an instant, and obviating the need to ever click on the delete button.

But those are just appurtenances – extras that just gussy up what is essentially a last-century technology. Which is probably why the communications connoisseurs have move on to other communication methods, which can boast the cool apps that lets you digitally connect the pieces of your life – like Twitter does, by streaming your consciousness to the whole world in 140 characters (are any more really necessary?), complete with links to the web pages you think the hundreds or thousands of your followers ought to read. That’s a lot better than email, which shoots off a single message to a single person – and nothing else.

But don’t count email out just yet; the folks at Israeli startup WiseStamp have found a way to propel email into the modern communication world – by building an application that lets you add a signature to your online email!

Of course, signatures have been a staple of email messages for a long time. But WiseStamp’s signatures are different, says Tzvika (Josh) Avnery, CEO and CMO of WiseStamp. “Our application brings the web into the inbox,” says Avnery. “You can share streaming information directly with people you communicate with, thereby promoting your ideas, your blogs, or your online presence.” That’s because the signatures you create with  WiseStamp allow you to stream your blog posts, Twitter or Facebook messages, music, video, or just about any other online activity you’re involved with, directly in your Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and other web mail accounts. For the first time, says Avnery, “you can use email to direct the people you communicate with to the elements of your online presence, thus promoting your blog, webpage, etc.”

WiseStamp is free and easy to install; just surf to http://www.wisestamp.com/ and install it as a Firefox or Thunderbird add-on (other browsers, including Chrome, will be supported in the near future, and the company is working on a version for email clients, like Outlook Express). Once installed, you’ll be able to open the WiseStamp preferences in the Firefox add-on menu selection; here you can add your basic information, like contact numbers, website links, etc. But the interesting part of WiseStamp is those three tabs in the middle – Social, IM, and RSS – where you can feed your social network messages (Twitter, Facebook), instant messaging posts (AIM, ICQ) or freeform RSS (like Feedburner blog feed titles and links) as part of your signature.

With nearly 50 services supported, anyone who uses the web nowadays has the opportunity to expand their online presence through an until now inert channel, says Avnery. “We get many messages from users who tell us that WiseStamp has enhanced their communications abilities significantly by introducing a whole new audience to their blog, their eBay product page, or cause.” For example, Orly Itzchaki, WiseStamp’s Product VP,  recently posted links to a “Free Gilad Shalit” page in her signature, and many users responded, saying that they, too, were inspired to include similar links in their signatures, Avnery says (rounding out the four partners who run WiseStamp along with Avenery and Yitzchaki are Sasha Gimelsthein, VP of Technology, and Tom Piamenta, VP of Business Development).

And not only do you get an html signature with streaming capabilities when you install WiseStamp, says Avnery; you get two! “We provide users with the ability to author a business and personal signature, since what works for personal messages may not work for business-oriented messages, and vice versa,” he says. And while two identities would seem like more than enough, the company is preparing to expand that feature, as well as simplify the whole system. “I want this to be as easy for my mother as it is for a seasoned blogger,” says Avnery. “In the future, we plan to offer a gallery with streams of data – news articles, blog posts, etc. – based on user interests, that users will be able to add to their messages with a couple of clicks.”

WiseStamp is planning these, and other changes, not just because they like developing new stuff, but because the users are interested in them. “We are moving in on 400,000 users now, thanks to the fact that we got recommended as a Firefox add-on,” Avnery says, as the company, which was self funded until now, is actively seeking to add investors. “We appreciate our users and we realize they are the reason we’re here at all. So, we make it our business to pay attention to their needs.”

Which could be one reason why WiseStamp just recently won a “Webby,” the Mashable Open Web Award, where it was voted Best Social Media Gadget of 2009, winning over several other venerable applications and services. But they won not for lack of trying to lose, says Avnery. “We of course used our product to promote ourselves in email, urging people we sent messages to to vote for us for the Webby Award. But to be fair, we also told our competitors in the contest that we would help them set up a signature urging people to vote for them. For some reason, they didn’t take us up on our offer,” says Avnery, “which I guess worked out for us!”

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